Student leads fight to restore papers

A student leader is pushing back against the University’s decision to cut its free newspaper service, arguing that the program is important for students.

Rohan Batra, the vice president of academic affairs for the Student Association, is lobbying University administrators to reinstate the program in main campus areas like the Marvin Center and Ivory Tower.

“It doesn’t make sense for us not to have this program,” he said. “We can’t expect a hundred people to fight for one copy in Gelman.”

The University paid $52,000 for the newspapers, at 43 cents a copy, last year. Batra pointed out that the bundled price saves students more than a dollar per copy.

Batra said he hopes the University will resume the program at $25,000 – or 58,000 copies – a year, which would meet the student demand of 700 copies per day. Batra calculated the figure using pick-up rates provided by USA Today.

Vice Provost and Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Services Robert Chernak said the University has no plans to reverse its decision, as there is little opposition to the program cut.

“There really has been very little pressure from students or parents to reinstate the readership program,” Chernak said.

He said the newspaper funding will be directed to cover a budget shortfall within the University Counseling Center, which expanded its counseling program Sept. 6.

“We are sometimes forced to make hard decisions on the expense side – often times between deciding between right and right. Unfortunately, in the short term, the additional free counseling sessions were a more heavily weighted ‘right’ than the readership program,” Chernak said.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, 75 percent of the 140,000 newspapers delivered to GW were picked up, Batra said, citing a report from GW. In high traffic areas like Thurston Hall, 98.2 percent of The New York Times issues delivered were picked up, Batra said.

USA Today Director of Communications Heidi Zimmerman said the University is not charged for any unused papers the company collects daily.

“Administrators need to realize that, for every paper that was not being picked up, we weren’t being charged. It’s a fact that not a lot of people know,” Batra said.

An online opposition group by the name of Students for the Return of the Collegiate Readership Program to GW has garnered about a dozen members.

The Student Association sought to extend digital subscriptions to The New York Times by this fall, but SA President John Richardson said the deal fell through the day before the readership program was cut, citing the end of the paper’s reduced-cost college subscription.

“I’m committed to making this online resource available to students.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.